The Washington Post

Chernobyl’s children: The lasting legacy of the nuclear disaster


People attend a memorial service for Chernobyl victims in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 26, 2011. (Sergei Chuzavkov/AP)

In April and May of 1986, for ten days, the worst nuclear plant accident in history occurred at the Chernobyl reactor. After the catastrophe, nearly 1,600 miles of the earth were sealed off in an exclusion zone. In 1997, Magnum photographer Paul Fusco started traveling to hospitals where children born within the radiation zone lived and died. For three years, he photographed their world. In the following piece, he reflects on the images. He acknowledges they are not pretty photographs, but argues that they need to be seen all the same. As one mother answered, when he asked if he could photograph her dying daughter, “I want everyone to see what they’ve done.”

Warning: The video contains graphic images.

While the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl is certainly newsworthy, there’s little doubt that the partial meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant has renewed interest in the Ukrainian disaster.

According to a Washinton Post-ABC News poll, most Americans -- by a slim majority -- view nuclear power as a safe source of energy. But despite that majority, nearly two-thirds reject the idea of building new nuclear reactors in the United States. And in the wake of Fukushima, 4 in 10 say they’re less confident in the safety of existing U.S. nuclear reactors.

Proponents of nuclear power have touted U.S. nuclear safety, but opponents believe the risks outweigh the benefits. Nuclear power already generates 20 percent of the nation’s electricity.

TweetWhat do you think? Is nuclear energy safe? If so, would you support efforts to build a new nuclear reactor where you live? Tell us what you think on Twitter. Use #nukepower in your tweet.

Some of your responses:

@washingtonpost sure. Lots of advancements in reactor design make them a lot safer and cleaner than the antiques we have today. #nukepowerless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet ReplyRussell de Pina
russd2357

would locate #nuclear reactors in gated communities and store spent fuel in #CEO basements http://wapo.st/eBylp1 #nukepower #green #insanityless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyWillSeattle
WillSeattle

@washingtonpost No #nukepower until a safer disposal and better safeguards are available.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyLonnie
NiceGent

@washingtonpost re #nukepower No! Clearly, nuclear power is not safe. Let’s just stay with falling water hydropower and solar homes on grid.less than a minute ago via Echofon Favorite Retweet ReplyMel Higgins
melhiggins1

(Via Slate)

(See the Post’s full Chernobyl coverage here.)

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